This time a year ago, Ricardo Nazario-Colón, Western Carolina University’s chief diversity officer, and his graduate assistant, Kevin Trudell, took 10 WCU students to the 28th annual National Latino Collegiate Conference at the University of Albany.

As they were returning to Cullowhee, traveling on I-81 south in the middle of the night, someone blurted out, “We need to have our own conference.” The van erupted into cheers. For the rest of the ride, the students began brainstorming and dishing out assignments.

Fast-forward a year later, and those conversations came to fruition. WCU successfully hosted the inaugural Southeastern Latinx Student Leadership Conference April 12-14 at the University Center. The conference, believed to be the first of its kind in the region, was presented by WCU’s Latino Appreciation Student Organization with support from the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Programs.

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Originally published April 15, 2019.